Why social media sites must exercise social responsibility and nip hate speech in the bud

Even as police arrest the likes of Shubham Mishra for issuing rape threats to a comedian, the offensive posts must be culled from social media in the first place

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After massive public outrage, the Vadodara police arrested 26-year-old Shubham Mishra for a video in which he abused and threatened stand-up comedian Agrima Joshua with rape with regards to a year-old video she had made on Maratha King Shivaji Mahraj’s statue in Maharashtra.

A year ago, comedian Agrima Joshua had joked about the reported statue of Shivaji Maharaj saying that she had read somewhere that people said it would have a GPS tracker, solar cells and laser rays. Soon, Shiv Sena leader and MLA Pratap Sarnaik had called for Joshua’s arrest following which she had apologised and pulled down the video, reported Mumbai Mirror. She also offered another apology on July 11 to the government authorities of Maharashtra in wake of the matter.


However, the joke didn’t go down well with Shubham Mishra, a so-called social media influencer who took to recording a video to hurl abuses and sexual expletives at Joshua and her mother as a response to Joshua’s stand-up act.

Mishra’s enraging video caused a huge outcry on social media and soon the National Commission of Women (NCW) wrote to the DGP of Police, Gujarat urging them to take urgent action against Mishra.


Soon, the Vadodara Police arrested Mishra, saying it had taken suo moto action with regards to the matter, even though that wasn’t the case. However, the police detained him and had initiated the legal process for registration of an FIR against him under relevant sections of the IPC and IT Act. The Indian Express reported that Mishra was also booked under IPC Sections 294 (Obscenity), 504 (Intentionally insults to break public peace) 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief) and 506 (Criminal intimidation) and 509 (Intending to insult modesty of a woman).


While the police will now carry its investigation in the incident, what is imperative is to understand how these hate offenders have taken such a huge space on social media without the fear of being caught.

After Mishra was apprehended, the Maharashtra police too arrested two others for using foul language against Joshua, informed Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.


Mishra is an active YouTuber and has over 298K subscribers on the platform. His words are chillingly reminiscent of the infamous offender Hindustani Bhau who continues to upload videos freely, using profane words against women.


It is more alarming that this behaviour is overlooked and indirectly encouraged by not holding such men accountable for their actions.

For example Hindustani Bhau was called into the Bigg Boss house in 2019, a move that was highly questionable given his reputation. While Twitter users condemned this move, it did not lead to much. The selection of Bhau, a so-called patriot only went to show the ideologies supported by him and by that of the political party he supported.

However, Mishra and Hindustani Bhau are not the only people misusing social media for their 15 minutes of fame. A YouTube channel by the name Hindustani Ladka also contains several videos where two or three men blatantly issue rape threats, use abusive language against women all while portraying themselves to be the highest levels of patriots by saying ‘Jai Hind’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. They too jumped on the bandwagon for fame and made a video abusing Joshua for her stand-up act. However, post the spate of arrests, they probably got scared of being caught too and issued a half-baked apology.


While it is commendable that the police have taken note of such people violating free speech rules, it is important to note that this only happened following outrage from the public. In almost all cases, no authority takes suo motu cognisance of such hate speech on social media by men and women alike. Even social media platforms, which have hate speech guidelines fail to filter such people out of the system and instead leave them to garner a huge fan-following.

In this day and age, social media following is seen as a barometer of popularity, and people like Mishra and Hindustani Bhau among others have perfected the formula for achieving it. Outrageous comments against minorities, women, profanities and a fervent show of love for one’s nation is what they use to brand themselves as nationalists and ‘protectors’ of the country.

Our take: People who act like a judge, jury and executioner go against the Constitution of India and basic principles of humanity which call for secularism and kindness towards fellow human beings. First and foremost, it is important that social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter enforce their community guidelines to keep these people from spreading and promoting violence and hate speech. Youngsters on social media are quickly influenced by such hate mongers and this only sets off a vicious circle where if such people are not held accountable, it will lead to the burgeoning of offenders in the society.

It is important that the government or social media platforms rope in NGOs to sensitize youngsters against such hateful language which is being normalised by hatemongers. Punishment and arrests may only do so much, but unless the problem is addressed at the root and extracted by relentlessly taking down such videos, no purpose will be served. Social media platforms must use NGOs in its basic promise of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which is ensuring a humane society which respects the law.


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